George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Brigadier General Henry Knox, 18 January 1778

From Brigadier General Henry Knox

Poughkeepsie [N.Y.] 18 Jany 1778.


I have consulted with his Excellency Governor Clinton on the best mode of transporting the Cannon from Albany to Pennsylvania. He agrees with me that they will remain perfectly Safe at Albany untill next Spring; and when the ice shall break up in the river, which will be some time in March, to have them brought down by water to New Windsor; and thence across the Country to Pennsylvania.1 I have heard they were to be sent to Springfield; but that would create great difficulty, put us to the extra expence of two hundred miles of land carriages and the uncertainty of geting them in any seasonable time by reason of the excessive bad roads between Connecticut and Hudsons River.

I have therefore written to Genl Lincoln at Albany desiring the Cannon may be stopped there for the present. I have also written to him, and Major Stevens who commands the Artillery there to have all the small arms which cannot with the utmost certainty be repaired in Albany to be sent immediately to Springfield, where I shall give directions concerning them.2 I shall be happy to receive a line from your Excellency on this subject directed to me at Boston.

The Governor and Council here are exceedingly alarmed at the defenceless state of the River. Genl Gates was invested with certain powers by Congress which are now of no service. No measures or plan has been produced for its defence, and without some exertions nothing will be done.3 I am, Sir, with the utmost respect and attachment, your Excellency’s most obedient servant

H. Knox B.G. Artilly.


1For GW’s earlier orders regarding the sending of artillery to Albany, see GW to Knox, 8 Jan., and to Horatio Gates, 21 February. The letters between Knox and Gov. George Clinton have not been identified.

2A copy of Knox’s letter to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, dated 18 Jan., is in NNGL; the letter to Maj. Ebenezer Stevens has not been identified.

3For the state of affairs concerning the fortification of the Hudson River, see La Radière to GW, 13 Jan.; for Gates’s “powers,” see GW to Israel Putnam, 15 Jan., n.1. Citing the “fatal Consequences” of delay in fortifying the Hudson, Clinton requested a loan of £5,000 from the New York legislature on 22 Jan. 1778 (see Hastings, Clinton Papers description begins Hugh Hastings and J. A. Holden, eds. Public Papers of George Clinton, First Governor of New York, 1777–1795, 1801–1804. 10 vols. 1899–1914. Reprint. New York, 1973. description ends , 2:687–88).

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